Sole traders – boost sales on a shoestring budget

As a sole trader it’s vital that people know about you and your brand.

It’s simple – the more people you reach, the more sales you’ll rake in. You could be the greatest carpenter or sandwich maker in the world, but if you fail to market your business and customers don’t know about you, how do you sell them your product or services?

That’s why marketing is such a valuable tool for sole traders. However, you need to get your strategy right. Don’t blow your whole budget on one channel – make sure the marketing reaches a wide yet targeted audience.

I’ve put together a list of 10 ways to market your business on a shoestring. Give them a go – after all, what have you got to lose? None of these tips will cost you actual money.

Write a press release

Send out a press release detailing your business proposition and what makes it unique. Target all relevant newspapers, websites, magazines and radio. Do this even if you think your product isn’t the most exciting. It could be a slow news day and you might be exactly what they’re looking for.

Email marketing

Email lets you communicate with hundreds of contacts at the touch of a button, and for smaller mailing lists it’s usually free. Get customers to fill in a form with their email address on it whenever they buy from you and have a ‘Sign up for more information’ field on your ‘Contact us’ page. This will help you build a list of email addresses to contact whenever you have a new product or offer.

Get yourself on YouTube

Create a YouTube channel where you can put videos of your business. If you’re a carpenter, film yourself building your latest project. If done well, it can show customers that you really care about what you’re creating. It also gives customers an opportunity to see how much effort goes into building that chest of drawers. The same can be done for people selling burgers or even cleaning offices/homes.

Convert your customers into your cheerleaders

Potential customers are a million times more likely to use your business if its been recommended by a friend. So why not turn your customers into brand ambassadors? Give them a discount on products if someone they recommended buys something from you. That way they’ll be singing your praises and getting you more customers in the process.

Get happy customers to tell you

Encourage customers to write a short email or, even easier, create a form for them to complete. Get them to detail the positive experience they had when using your business. Put these testimonials on your website and maybe frame some exceptional ones in your shop/office. People will be more willing to use you if they see that other customers have had a positive experience.

Use Twitter & Facebook

Set up a Twitter account and Facebook page for your business. You need to make people aware of you and your products or services. If you have a shop or if you’re working on a job, tweet your whereabouts.

Upload photos of your products/work and update your Facebook status to let customers know what you’re up to. It’s another way of letting people know you exist.

Offer to write for a trade magazine or website

A sole trader is the MD (and everything else) of their business. That makes them experts in every aspect of running their venture and their industry. So offer to write a blog on your business for a trade publication. It’s another way of getting your business known and makes you look even more reputable.

Set up a website

For a business to be successful today it’s essential that you have a website. The first thing a customer will do when trying to find out about your business is Google it. An attractive website can make your business look professional and should be the home of your online presence. Your social media channels should link back to your website as much as they can. This will help drive traffic to your site and is another way of creating sales.

Run a competition

Give something away and get people talking about your business. You could run a competition from your shop and advertise it online. This could get more people visiting and more people will see your products and ultimately buy from you.

Try and win an award

Entering for an industry award can be quite easy. For some, all you need to do is complete an application. If you’re successful, local press may be interested in speaking to you and it’s another accolade to put on your website. It also gives customers confidence in your business.

Everything listed above will not cost you a penny. It will simply need an investment of your time. If spare time is a problem for you whilst you’re busy running your business, then get in touch.